GARDENING BY RONELLA: Start preparing poinsettias for Christmas
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Oct 02, 2013 | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few readers want to know how to treat their poinsettias to make them bloom for Christmas so here are some facts about that favorite, the poinsettia.

To start your plant out right in spring, it needs only 12 hours of light during spring and summer. You can set it outside during summer if you wish and I like to bury the pot in soil. Poinsettias do not like wet feet so water them when they are slightly dry. One procedure that benefits them is called immersion. Pull the entire root ball out of the pot, set it in a bucket of water for a few minutes, then let it drip dry and put it back in the pot. If you keep it inside all year, put it in a sunny window. Do not fertilize after August.

Now to the part that is different from other plants: Put it in complete darkness at night from October till mid-December. You can cover it completely with a dark blanket at night or move it into a dark closet at night.

After a few weeks, your plant will start getting color in the bracts. Then, on the other hand, it may turn color for you without all the attention. One last piece of advice: cut your plant back when it gets leggy in spring. Good luck.

Now that you have a little time on your hands, you might want to plant a salad garden. Any small area will do. You might want to use a space that has been planted to annuals now that you can pull them up. Some good choices would be lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, radishes, onions and kale. You only need a few square feet to have fresh salad vegetables for late fall.

Fall seems to have a special smell. Some of us are old enough to have special memories of falls of long ago with the wagon loaded with pumpkins for the hog pens and the big disk cutting down all leftovers in the garden. All the watermelons and cantaloupes brought in before the first frost. The dried beans and peas that were piled up in grass sacks to be hulled later. I remember so well how that pricked my fingers. I didn’t have

to do that but if Ma did, then I did.

It always amazed me to see Pa put many bushel baskets of green walnuts in the ruts where the wagon wheels would run over them, thus getting the green hulls off the black walnuts. Then he gathered them to put in a drying place before storing them in the attic.

After the walnuts were dried, Ma or Pa would get out the little iron flatirons and Ma’s little tack hammer to start the big bowl of cracked walnuts. I loved to pick out the walnut meats with my own horseshoe nail. I don’t know why that was such a happy time for me as a little girl, but sitting in front of a big fire in the huge fireplace with Ma and Pa on either side of me was a feeling I can’t describe. Evenings at that old house were spent on the big front porch or in front of the fireplace and if there were things that could be done sitting there, then we stayed busy till bedtime. Sometime during the evenings, one of them would get out the long handled corn popper and we ate popcorn. Pa would usually have a book in his hand at some time. One thing you could always count on, and it was more important than I could have imagined at the time, was that there was never, never any criticism of each other or unkind words from either of those two wonderful grandparents. I also knew that I would never be scolded by either of them; therefore I never did anything to deserve to be scolded. Therein may lie a good lesson for any parent or grandparent.

It’s getting near time to dig your glads, dahlias, cannas and tuberous begonias. Dig the glads just after the leaves turn yellow and the rest before a killing frost. After digging, strip off the leaves and let them dry for a week or so. Then store them in peat moss or sand in a dry cool place. Do not let them freeze. Check them periodically throughout winter and throw away any soft or moldy ones.

Don’t neglect to water your azaleas and rhododendrons. One of the reasons they fail to bloom in spring is that they weren’t watered enough in fall.

For those gardeners who love asters, and there are still some who do, remember that asters should be divided every year leaving not over five stalks to a plant. Then they should be staked in spring. If they are not divided each year, they gradually die out.

Thank you for the calls this past week. You can reach me at 270-522-3632.
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